4WD or 4×4 Angst

Disclaimer: i used to be a 4WDer before becoming an human powered traveller. We had a Toyota Landcruiser. My ex and i prioritised best practice and joined a club for training and safety.

The night before crossing Nambucca River, it was the Easter full moon and turtles were coming ashore on Valla Beach and Gaagal Wanggaan to lay eggs. The next morning I saw 4WD tyre tracks over top of the nests, one nest was just outside a fenced off bird nest zone (also covered in tyre tracks) with 2 different sets of tracks over the turtle eggs. Throughout the day I watched more 4WDs driving over other nests. I tried explaining to the first driver that there was a nest up there but he told me he paid to drive his 4WD anywhere. The next one pleaded ignorance and said the parks should fence it off if they don’t want vehicles on it, how else were drivers supposed to know. I stopped flagging them down, it was wasting my time. I knew the turtles had nested because I saw the tracks but I also heard several people, locals, in Valla and Nambucca talking about the event.

Information about Sea Turtles and Beach Activity from the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

No 4WDs are permitted to drive on vegetated dunes, even if your bad planning finds you caught by the high tide you are still not permitted to drive on the dunes. I can walk along them because my feet cause very little disturbance compared to a vehicle. Sometimes, at high tide, I did this and saw the damage. Nesting birds, chicks and adults, killed under tyres, erosion, plants broken and killed, disease spreading from the tracks. Are you aware oyster catchers, terns, plovers and gulls like to sleep in tyre tracks on the beach because it gives them a windbreak?

It seems to be the visitors in 4WDs who care less about wildlife and beach conservation than the local drivers. They ignore the signage indicating the 4WD only zones. Short of locking off access to everyone or a massive expensive awareness campaign, how else can this destructive behaviour be curbed? I have thought about this a lot and wish there was a way to encourage all 4WD owners using the beaches to own responsibility individually and collectively, passing that on to the new and younger drivers.

The annual K’gari (Fraser) Clean Up is a brilliant event which has been running for 17 years. Get involved or create your own event to help protect what you love.

How do we make respect and conservation default values while simultaneously making drunk hooliganism and environmental degradation uncool? What are your thoughts and ideas?

Here is an excellent PDF for 4WD Best Practice produced by Griffith University in conjunction with 4WD Australia, Treadlightly Australia and Sustainable Tourism.

As I said in a previous post, I know most 4WD enthusiasts are responsible and practice sustainable activities so their access into the wild isn’t locked off. Unfortunately, I have witnessed an astounding amount of stupidity and illegal activity on the beaches, especially leading up to the seasonal fish shoaling events and during public holidays. From piles of rubbish left on the beach after a campout to driving endangering others lives. One day I was passed by a 4WD with people riding in the ute tray with the front passenger out of their seat belt sitting backwards like a water ski spotter. I thought that was stupid. The next day I was passed by another 4WD with 4 people hanging off the outside of the doors. Both were going at speed. All it takes is for one wheel of a speeding 4WD to hit a patch of soft sand, rock or buried log, steering failure, over correction, simple loss of control due to lack of training and experience, to roll. In both of these scenarios passengers would be killed. On the popular little beach at Port Macquarie north shore I watched 4WDs speeding through young families, each time a 4WD rushed down the beach the parents had to rush to gathering in the kids and pet dogs or yell for them stay still while the idiot in the 4WD charged through.

It was scary watching that but what is even more frightening is the sheep mentality, following other drivers doing the wrong thing or following tracks made by other vehicles in places they shouldn’t be.

4WD or 4X4 training is a great way to gain confidence and make your experience more enjoyable without harming anyone or the environment.

The Australian Offroad Academy is a good place to start (I’m not getting kickbacks, just giving you information)

Join a club and use popular forums like ExplorOz

Before I leave this subject, when you drive past a walker or cyclist on a dirt road, please slow down. It is mighty unpleasant being sprayed with stones and dust every time a vehicle passes, and it is happening 90% of the time. Few realise or care that they are about to cover the other road user in dirt or potentially take their eye out with a stone. The stones thrown up by 4WDs often hit me, in my face sometimes, a stone thrown up by a 4WD broke the lens of my glasses once. The common courtesy of slowing down is uncommon these days. Don’t get me started on making a walker or cyclist invisible to any following vehicle.

Use your noggin, that’s what it’s there for.

The irresponsibility of a few will ruin it for the greater 4WD community. If you don’t want that to happen do your part to prevent it.

If you are not already following I Got Bogged At Inskip Point on facebook go check it out!